News Briefs

March 14, 2022
Iranian military officials claimed that they prevented a sabotage at the Fordow uranium enrichment facility on March 14. Iranian state media claimed that a network of Iranian agents had been recruited by Israeli intelligence to carry out the operation. According to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, the plot was thwarted by the Revolutionary Guards Nuclear Command, a new unit established to oversee security at nuclear sites.
-- Reuters
March 14, 2022
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) carried out a missile strike on a residential compound in Erbil, Iraq on March 13, claiming that it was a base of operations for Israeli intelligence. The strike consisted of a dozen ballistic missiles and its main target was located near the U.S. consulate in Erbil. There were no U.S. casualties. The U.S. and Iraqi governments both condemned the attack as a violation of Iraq's sovereignty.
-- CBS/AFP
March 10, 2022
Court documents unsealed in early March revealed that the United States seized the cargo of two oil tankers suspected of transporting Iranian oil. The tankers had traveled a roundabout route for over a year between Iran, Turkey, Romania, and Cyprus before being ordered by U.S. authorities in late 2021 and early 2022 to Texas and the Bahamas, where their respective cargoes were seized. During the journey, one vessel had repainted its deck to evade identification by satellite. The vessels also falsified documentation about the origin of the oil, turned off their transponders, and engaged in a ship-to-ship transfer. Both tankers, one Panama-flagged and the other Liberia-flagged, were managed by shipping companies based in Greece.
-- Associated Press
March 8, 2022
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force claimed it successfully launched a reconnaissance satellite into orbit on March 8. The three-stage, solid- and liquid-fueled Qased space-launch vehicle (SLV) carried the Noor-2 satellite into low-earth orbit. Iranian state media footage showed that the SLV was launched from a mobile launcher on a concrete pad near Shahroud. It was the IRGC space program's second launch; the Aerospace Force launched the first Noor satellite on the Qased SLV in 2020. The IRGC space program is distinct from the Iranian Space Agency, which reportedly experienced a failed launch in early March.
-- Associated Press
March 3, 2022
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a confidential report that Iran has likely doubled its stockpile of uranium enriched to 60% purity since November 2021. In November, the IAEA estimated that Iran held 15.5 kilograms of 60% enriched uranium, and now the Agency estimates that Iran has 33.2 kilograms. The IAEA also estimates that Iran's total enriched uranium stockpile has also increased to 3197.1 kilograms. The Agency cautioned that its estimates are inexact because Iran has blocked access to monitoring equipment since last year.
-- Associated Press
March 2, 2022
Satellite images show scorch marks and debris on a launchpad at Iran's Imam Khomeini Spaceport, suggesting that Iran experienced another rocket launch failure. The imagery showed a gantry similar to one used in an earlier launch of the Zuljanah space-launch vehicle (SLV), which has two solid-fueled and one liquid-fueled stage. The U.S. Space Command did not detect a launch, which indicates that the SLV failed on the launchpad.
-- Associated Press
February 28, 2022
The U.N. Security Council imposed an arms embargo on the entire Houthi group on February 28, expanding a ban that had previously targeted specific Houthi leaders. While no member of the Council voted against the resolution, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, and Norway abstained. The resolution extends the arms embargo and additional sanctions on Houthi leaders until February 2023.
-- Reuters
February 25, 2022
Iran's top nuclear official said on February 25 that Iran will continue enriching uranium to both 5% and 20% purity even if U.S. sanctions are lifted as part of a revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA capped enrichment at 3.67%. Unnamed Iranian officials had previously said that Iran would be willing to suspend its 20% and higher enrichment activity as part of a revived JCPOA.
-- Reuters
February 21, 2022
The commander of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet announced plans to create a contingent of 100 unmanned vessels to patrol sea routes in the Middle East. The Navy and regional U.S. security partners such as Israel and the United Arab Emirates, who have both developed indigenous UAV capabilities, will jointly operate the new drone fleet. 
-- Reuters
February 17, 2022
Diplomats involved in nuclear negotiations in Vienna shared details of a draft deal on February 17. The draft outlines steps parties will take to bring them back into compliance with the JCPOA. Initially, Iran would stop enriching uranium above 5% purity and release Western prisoners held in Iran, and the United States would unfreeze $7 billion of frozen Iranian funds held abroad. Subsequent steps would include the United States issuing sanctions waivers permitting Iran to export its oil and Iran abiding by a 3.67% enrichment cap. The stages would culminate in a Re-Implementation Day one to three months from an agreement on the proposed deal. According to unnamed officials, Iran seeks to include a measure that would allow it to resume enriching uranium to 60% if the United States violates the new deal. 
-- Reuters

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